The Nardio Visual Novel Review
IS Shuffle! WORTH YOUR TIME?
Yes it is!
WHAT DID WE THINK WITHOUT SPOILING IT?
Shuffle! is the greatest, most immersive, engaging and well thought out visual novel I’ve ever experienced.
I loved Shuffle!
In Shuffle! you play as Rin Tsuchimi, a college student who lives with his gorgeous childhood friend. Somehow he also seems to garner the attention of all the beautiful women in school. Along the way you meet new friends and find love. This is a lighthearted bishojo game where you choose who you end up with in the end. I chose my childhood friend first, but quickly found myself wanting to explore all of the paths. Hours and hours and hours later I am still very hooked.
Shuffle! is everything I always hoped visual novels could be.
I finally understand the premium visual novel experience. I understand why some cost way more than others. Shuffle! is so well done, polished and entertaining with an expansive story to boot. I wholeheartedly recommend this visual novel even with the premium price tag of $19.99.
Shuffle! immediately pulled me in from the very beginning. The voice acting, for example, is so well done that I turned up the volume to listen even though I didn’t understand what they were saying. The characters all sound authentic and the emotion from their voices feel real. The voice acting in Shuffle! puts a lot of recent anime to shame.
The music was also really nice and fit the scenes perfectly. Sometimes I would just leave the game on to have it playing in the background. It’s great in game and it’s great to listen to as I clean my apartment. I found myself humming a few of the tunes throughout the day.
Shuffle!’s writing is really good for the most part. Sure it wasn’t perfect,but I found myself invested in all of the girls. Everyone gets some time to shine and it’s done so well I want to go back and replay the game a few more times to get all the endings. So far I’ve done three romance paths and have been happy with all off them. I’ve enjoyed myself so much I try not to skip text because the game developers sneak in little changes here and there. This is especially high praise considering a single path already takes a couple hours to get through. I’m already well over 16 hours into the game and I can easily see myself going over 50 hours happily.
As you play, the game teases you with tidbits of information that hints a deeper story for each girl. After playing through three paths I can say that each one offers something new. So far the most natural route is where you end up with your childhood friend. That story felt the best out of all of them so far since it’s the most in your face. When you choose not to explore that path, she is still always around as your roommate.
It’s not without its problems.
There was a rather glaring bug. Some of the dialogue text didn’t fit into the dialogue box since the last update. This has made reading through the different paths frustrating. It does’t happen all of the time, but it’s often enough to be annoying. Thankfully I can just tap “H” on the keyboard to read everything I missed. Unfortunately, this rips me out of the experience. Luckily, the developers are very responsive. I messaged YumeHaven and they promptly assured me that they are looking into it. Considering how fast they have updated the game to address concerns before I have no doubt they will resolve this quickly.
The other problems I had with Shuffle! was not a bug. There was one scene where my character seemingly gets aroused by the lolicon character. She and I get soaked in the rain and my character can’t help but notice her shirt is see-through. It was an awkward and cringe inducing scene for me because it just felt wrong. A later scene I go bra shopping with her and a group of friends. It all just seemed awkward and forced. I know there is a market for this sort of thing, but it’s very disturbing to me. I’m thankful for the skip button so I didn’t have to see the scene again on my second and third playthrough.
Now, there are some Steam reviews complaining that Shuffle! is missing some nudity. As a person who has never played the original I don’t think feel like anything is missing. If anything Shuffle! would feel wrong to me if the developers added nudity. The story works perfectly as is. One Steam reviewer complained that the rain scene I mentioned earlier was censored needlessly. Personally, I can’t understand that sort of fetish. For me, Shuffle! works perfectly. If there is anything missing here, I don’t feel it.
It’s magnificent. Absolutely magnificent. All of the characters stand out and have a unique look. All of the characters have different looks, outfits and facial expressions. The original developer of Shuffle! – Navel – really put everything they had into this experience. I am officially spoiled now. There’s no way I can go back to cheaper visual novels with lesser art. Even the backgrounds are amazing. There is a lot of variety to fit the location, mood and even time of day.
Best of all the publisher listens.
YumeHaven recently added in the ability to hit the “space bar” to see the screen without text boxes or UI. This was a wonderful and brilliant addition. They added this in after Steam users provided the feedback. Bravo. Just bravo! This in addition to the wonderful gallery provide you with tons of eye candy. I know I said this before, but Shuffle! is spoiling me rotten with everything and I love it.
YumeHaven aren’t resting on their laurels. They have been active on twitter responding to complaints and offering information on updates. So far they’ve fixed a few problems and added some features. I love it when a team cares enough support it a game post release. This really makes me want to get more from them in the future. I also feel better about endorsing their games . YumeHaven has been doing a phenomenal job and I applaud them for it.
I loved Shuffle! This review took forever to finish because every time I started to write it I just kept playing it. The story has me that invested. I love the experience that much. Honestly, I see myself going back to Shuffle! this and upcoming weekends just for fun so I can experience the entire story. I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who is curious about visual novels or wants a good quality story to immersive themselves in for a few days or a long weekend.
A STEAM KEY FOR SHUFFLE! WAS GIVEN TO ME TO REVIEW THIS GAME.
Agree? Disagree? Write your comments below
BASIC INFO & WEBLINKS:
- Shuffle! Steam Page
- $19.99 Regularly On Steam
- Branching Story With Choices That Matter
- Insane Replay Value
- English Interface & Subtitles
- Full Japanese Voice Overs
- Steam Achievements
- Steam Trading Cards
- Publisher YumeHavn On Twitter